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Career guide to Backend Development

Introduction

Technological revolutions have changed our lives, with sectors like eCommerce, banking, healthcare, education, entertainment, and other industries, gradually shifting online. Due to the increasing demand for digital devices, many businesses and companies have no choice but to invest in web development to cater to their customers’ needs. Backend development is an integral component of web development. It involves building or managing the back or receiver’s side of a website that is not visible to the users. If you are a technology geek who loves to take up challenging roles and solve complex problems through coding, you can pursue a backend development career. This blog provides you with a detailed guide on how to build a career path in backend development.

What is the role of a backend developer or engineer?

To become a backend developer, knowing what activities you will have to perform as a backend developer job is essential. The primary responsibility is to build the backend or client-side of a web application. Backend developers perform several other tasks like coding, creating a database, enhancing server functions, and more. Let us understand the job description of a backend developer in detail.

  • Integrating frontend and backend development elements.
  • Compiling and analyzing data processes.
  • Writing or modifying codes to troubleshoot errors.
  • Brainstorm ideas to develop new products and features.
  • Keeping updated with industry trends and executing them.
  • Collaborating with frontend developers and the design team to enhance user experience.
  • Creating sustainable, functional, and reusable codes.
  • Running tests and debugging web applications.

Why should you pursue a career in backend development?

With the rising use of technology, the boom in the eCommerce industry, and changing consumer preferences, many companies are building web applications for B2C (business to consumer) sales. There is a massive demand for backend developers to build web applications for brands. Moreover, a backend developer job is one of the highest-paying careers in the US. According to Indeed, the average salary of a backend developer in the US is $116,390 per year. It is also essential to gain expertise in backend development to become a full-stack developer.

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How to build a career in backend development?

To become a backend developer, you need a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or computer applications. You also need fluency in programming languages, must know to code and should have an expert understanding of the web development cycle with its various tools and techniques.

Step 1- Learn data structures, algorithms, and programming languages

First, you must learn data structures, algorithms, and various programming languages to master backend development. You can start learning the basics of algorithms and data structures. These two concepts are the foundation of backend development.  Learning programming languages or other backend development skills can be challenging without good knowledge about algorithms and data structures. 

Algorithms are a must for problem-solving in backend development. It is a procedure or a list of instructions that execute specific actions. You can learn searching algorithms like Depth and Breadth-First Search, sorting algorithms like the bubble sort, quick sort, and recursive and iterative algorithms. It is also pertinent to learn data structures since websites collect customer data for various purposes. You must know the most popular data structures for backend development, including array operations, linked lists, stacks, queues, hash tables, and trees.

You will have to learn two types of backend programming languages: object-oriented programming languages (OOP) and functional programming languages. OOP languages use classes, objects, and reusable codes and execute statements in a specific order. Some of the most common OOP languages are Java, Python, and .NET.

Functional programming languages use mathematical functions and execute statements in random order. The most popular functional programming languages you can learn are Scala, JavaScript, PHP, C++, and Clojure.

 

Step 2 – Learn other backend development skills

Acquiring essential backend development skills is one of the most crucial steps in your backend development career. The more skilled you are, the higher your chances of getting well-paying jobs. According to Indeed, the highest paying backend developer skills include XSLT, Scala, Python, Haskell, Go, Machine Learning, Data Structures, Computer Science, C++, and Machine Learning. Other valuable skills include data automation, robotics, distributed systems, and data warehouse. According to Columbia University, the most critical skills for backend development are:

  • Java
  • Python
  • PHP
  • SQL
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • Communication
  • Git

In addition to these technical skills, you must also learn soft skills like communication, problem-solving and technical creativity to excel in backend development. You can polish your skills by reading books, articles, or blogs on backend development, staying updated about the latest trends, and learning new programming languages. You can highlight your CV or portfolio skills by showing relevant work experience or projects.

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Step 3- Work on real-time backend development projects

The best way to demonstrate your skills for a backend developer job is to work on practical development projects. You can add these projects to your CV or make a separate portfolio. For beginners, some of the best backend development projects include a grocery shopping application, an online food ordering app, a property rental app, and a pet finder application. You can work on these projects on GitHub.

Step 4 – Apply to backend developer jobs

Once you have built your portfolio or gained relevant practical experience, you can apply for backend developer jobs at startups or tech companies. Some platforms where you can find several Java backend developer jobs in the US are Indeed, LinkedIn, AngelList, and Upwork.


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Step 5 – Clear backend development interviews

Now comes one of the most crucial and challenging parts of becoming a backend developer. Once you start applying for jobs, you must simultaneously prepare for interviews. Most companies have 3-4 interview rounds before hiring a candidate. The first round is a screening session where the interviewer learns about you and assesses whether your skills align with the job requirements. The second round can involve behavioral questions or basic questions about backend development. The last two rounds are primarily technical. The interviewer might ask technical questions on backend development. The best way to clear the initial rounds is to know your CV inside out, as the majority of questions are based on the CV. For later rounds, you must focus on technical skills.

Conclusion

Web development is one of the most popular career choices today, and its trends are changing rapidly. So, it is important to have a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of web development, learn new technologies and tools, and upskill yourself regularly. Recent web development trends include technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, data security, cloud computing, motion UI, and augmented reality. 

If you are a backend developer, you can do online courses to keep up with the latest trends and enhance your CV. Check out the Master of Science in Computer Science on upGrad. The program will help you acquire the top skills in backend development like Amazon Web Services, SQL & NoSQL, Spring Boot, Databases, and more. By working on over ten practical assignments, you will also learn various programming languages, including Java, Docker, Git, JUnit, and mongoDB.

What is the difference between frontend and backend development?

Frontend and backend development are the two facets of web development. Frontend development means building a web application's front or user side. It includes all the functions that a customer can perform. Backend development refers to building and managing a web application's back or client-side. It contains all the necessary functions that a user cannot see.

What is the difference between a backend engineer and a backend developer job?

The backend engineer and backend developer titles are often used interchangeably as they perform similar functions. However, there are a few significant differences between the two jobs. A backend engineer job is a higher position than backend development. Engineers have to perform more complex tasks like managing the entire software system and maintaining relationships with different stakeholders. A backend engineer leads a team of backend developers in many organizations. They are responsible for building the mechanics of a website. Backend developers are more involved in running tests, debugging the application, and optimizing the web application server-side.

What is the career path in backend developer jobs?

You will start as an entry-level backend developer or engineer, which would involve running tests and checking the system's performance. After a few years, you become a senior backend developer. The role involves writing application programming interfaces (API) and optimizing server scripts. As you gain more experience, you will get promoted to higher positions - senior full-stack developer, lead software engineer, lead software development engineer, senior software architect, and IT director.

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